Author: Rosaleen Joyce
Publisher: Open University Press/McGraw-Hill
As I have developed a particular interest in outdoor learning and am reasonably familiar with the related literature as a result, Outdoor Learning: Past and Present came as a bit of a surprise. It is unlike anything I have read in this area before but, on reflection, I would say that its unique focus is a positive one.
Rosaleen Joyce aims to address a gap in the literature, exploring the role that historical, political and social factors have played in shaping the development of outdoor education to the present day. The book is exceptionally thorough in doing so, and Joyce's ideas about changing conceptions of childhood, attitudes towards the natural world and, ultimately, the growth of a formal link between education and the outdoors are particularly interesting.
The book takes readers back to the start of the 16th century, and it is structured in a way that makes following the discussion about how thinking has since evolved relatively painless; each chapter considers how the political and social climate of a different period has played a part in the development of outdoor learning, with particular reference to the work of an influential educational thinker of the time. Its carefully planned structure would also make this a useful book for readers wishing to dip into this field or to find out more about the work of a specific pioneer. However, Outdoor Learning: Past and Present is undoubtedly of greatest value when it is considered as a whole; only then is it possible to fully appreciate the perspective that sets this text apart from the rest.
Although the purpose and structure of this book are excellent, I did find that it took a while to get going and therefore required some perseverance on the part of the reader. That aside, it is a good read, and I would recommend it to all undergraduate education students who wish to develop their understanding in this area. It would be accessible to those with little or no prior knowledge, and an interesting read for the veterans.
Who is it for? Undergraduate education students looking to widen their knowledge of outdoor learning.
Would you recommend it? Yes.